Las Baulas National Marine Park in Playa Grande, Guanacaste has a special and interesting history. Many years ago, thousands of leatherback sea turtles hatched their eggs in this area. But as a result of settlers using their eggs and meat to supplement their diet, the turtles left the region and have returned little by little in small groups.
The National Park was created in 1991 to support the nesting colony of leatherback sea turtles (baulas) on the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica, with a population of about 800 female turtles nesting each year. Nesting season is November through April.
It extends over 936 terrestrial acres, and 54,000 marine acres. The National Park is comprised of the 50-meter zone of four beaches (Carbón, Ventanas, Grande and Langosta), as well as the Tamarindo estuary and mangroves at the mouth of the Matapalo River and the San Francisco River Estuary. To the north, the Cerros Morro and Hermosa are also included. (see park map above)
From the intersection on the PanAmerican Highway at Liberia, drive west towards the Pacific coast. At the town of Belén, take a right turn and continue on paved road for 15 miles, until reaching the community of Huacas. Here follow a gravel road 5 miles further through the town of Matapalo and on to Salinas, where you enter the national park on Playa Grande.
The ranger station at Playa Grande is open from 8 am to 4 pm. Guided tours are available with bi-lingual park employees. For minimum impact, a limited number of visitors is allowed each evening.
Nesting season is approximately November through April.